St Catherine's Point

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This craggy western gatepost at the entrance to Fowey harbour was given to the National Trust in 1919 to honour the men of Fowey who died in the First World War.

St Catherine’s Castle
The castle was built by Thomas Treffry of Place (who was responsible also for St Mawes Castle) together with the people of Fowey. Dating from between 1538 and 1542, it formed part of a chain of castles along the south coast of England ordered by Henry VIII. At the lower level there is a Victorian battery where two large coastal defence guns were mounted on runners. The castle is now a scheduled Ancient Monument in the care of English Heritage.

The eccentric Rashleigh mausoleum
Just inland from the castle, the gloriously grand Rashleigh mausoleum arches exotically up from the surrounding scrubland like a crusader’s tomb, and commands the most breathtaking view of the Fowey estuary. It was built for William Rashleigh in 1867, four years before his death, and he lies here in a coffin lined with white silk, alongside his wife Catherine and their daughter Edith Stopford Sackville. The site overlooks the splendid Italianate house which William built at Point Neptune, and in which he chose to live in preference to Menabilly. Nearby the family pets are buried too, but their graves are now lost in the dense scrub.

Once a beacon
The mausoleum is built on the approximate site of St Catherine’s Chapel, which was licensed in 1390 and shown on a Tudor map to have been a small building with one aisle and a western tower. Coastal chapels such as this, and St Saviour’s above Polruan, served as vital landmarks and lighthouses as well as places of worship. In storms and fogs the monks who tended the chapels would light beacons in the windows and toll bells to guide fishermen and sailors away from the rocks and safely into harbour.